.- Pope Benedict XVI greeted thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square today for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and prayed the Angelus with them. Prior to leading the Angelus, the Holy Father pointed out that in her receiving of Christ in faith and offering Him to the world the Immaculate Virgin showed to us the vocation and mission of the Church.
On this day, “we celebrate one of the most beautiful and popular feasts of the Blessed Virgin,” the Pope noted. “Not only did Mary never commit a sin, but she was even preserved from the common inheritance of the human race, which is original sin. And this due to the mission for which God had always destined her: to be the Mother of the Redeemer.”
The biblical foundations of this truth of the faith, the Holy Father noted, “are found in the words of the Angel Gabriel directed at the maiden of Nazareth, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.’” The Pontiff noted that the name “full of grace,” “is the most beautiful name of Mary, the name which was given by God Himself, to show what she is from the beginning and forever, the beloved, the elect, the one chosen to receive the most precious gift, Jesus, ‘the love of God incarnate.’”
The Holy Father said that man can never know why God, among all women, chose Mary, “the answer is hidden in the unfathomable mystery of the Divine will.” Still, he continued, “there is one reason which the Gospel puts forward: her humility.”
“The same Virgin in the ‘Magnificat,’ her song of praise, says that, ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...for He has looked with favor on his lowly servant.’”
Mary, then, “Is made the Mother of God, image and model of the Church, chosen among the people to receive the blessing of the Lord and to spread it through the entire human family. This ‘blessing’ in none other than Jesus Chris Himself. He is the Font of Grace, from which Mary is filled from the first instant of her existence. She received Jesus in Faith and with love gave him to the world,” he said.
“This is also our vocation and our mission, the vocation and mission of the Church,” the Pope emphasized, “to receive Christ in our lives and give him to the world, ‘that the world might be saved through him.’”
The Holy Father also recalled that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception “illuminates, like a lighthouse, the time of Advent, which is a time of watching and faithfully waiting for the Savior.”
“While we march ahead to meet the God who comes, we look to Mary who, shines as ‘a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God,’” he added.
After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the various pilgrims praying that Christians everywhere, following the example of Mary, might allow the gift of grace to bear fruit in a life of holiness.